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The high price of debt: Household financial debt and its impact on mental and physical health

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  • Sweet, Elizabeth
  • Nandi, Arijit
  • Adam, Emma K.
  • McDade, Thomas W.

Abstract

Household financial debt in America has risen dramatically in recent years. While there is evidence that debt is associated with adverse psychological health, its relationship with other health outcomes is relatively unknown. We investigate the associations of multiple indices of financial debt with psychological and general health outcomes among 8400 young adult respondents from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Our findings show that reporting high financial debt relative to available assets is associated with higher perceived stress and depression, worse self-reported general health, and higher diastolic blood pressure. These associations remain significant when controlling for prior socioeconomic status, psychological and physical health, and other demographic factors. The results suggest that debt is an important socioeconomic determinant of health that should be explored further in social epidemiology research.

Suggested Citation

  • Sweet, Elizabeth & Nandi, Arijit & Adam, Emma K. & McDade, Thomas W., 2013. "The high price of debt: Household financial debt and its impact on mental and physical health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 94-100.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:91:y:2013:i:c:p:94-100 DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.05.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Walsemann, Katrina M. & Gee, Gilbert C. & Gentile, Danielle, 2015. "Sick of our loans: Student borrowing and the mental health of young adults in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 85-93.
    2. Boen, Courtney, 2016. "The role of socioeconomic factors in Black-White health inequities across the life course: Point-in-time measures, long-term exposures, and differential health returns," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 63-76.
    3. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1363-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Boen, Courtney & Yang, Y. Claire, 2016. "The physiological impacts of wealth shocks in late life: Evidence from the Great Recession," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 221-230.
    5. Hojman, Daniel A. & Miranda, Álvaro & Ruiz-Tagle, Jaime, 2016. "Debt trajectories and mental health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 54-62.
    6. Cristina OTTAVIANI & Daniela VANDONE, 2016. "Is Impulsivity a Mediator of the Relationship between Financial Literacy and Debt Decisions?," Departmental Working Papers 2016-06, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    7. Leigh Ann Leung & Catherine Lau, 2017. "Effect of mortgage indebtedness on health of U.S. homeowners," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 239-264, March.
    8. Despard, Mathieu R. & Perantie, Dana & Taylor, Samuel & Grinstein-Weiss, Michal & Friedline, Terri & Raghavan, Ramesh, 2016. "Student debt and hardship: Evidence from a large sample of low- and moderate-income households," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 8-18.
    9. Clayton, Maya & Liñares-Zegarra, José & Wilson, John O.S., 2015. "Does debt affect health? Cross country evidence on the debt-health nexus," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 51-58.
    10. Atte Oksanen & Mikko Aaltonen & Kati Rantala, 2015. "Social Determinants of Debt Problems in a Nordic Welfare State: a Finnish Register-Based Study," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 229-246, September.

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